Purveyor of: That first bike ride feeling on a city side street in the summertime breeze.
File next to: Grand Analog, Aquakultre, Zaki Ibrahim, Witch Prophet
Playing: Thursday April 29 at 8pm on our YouTube channel. Tune in here.
Odario is a storyteller, music-maker, actor, and DJ. A founding member of hip-hop collective Grand Analog, and the host of CBC radio’s afterdark program, he has been nominated for Sync Artist / Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Sync Awards, and been featured on a number of other artist’s tracks including A Tribe Called Red with Haviah Mighty. Lisa Conway checked in with Odario about his solo debut EP, directing music videos, livestream performances, and pandemic comfort foods.
I read that you started recording your new EP, Good Morning Hunter, at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. How did it feel to make and release this collection of songs compared to your pre-pandemic single release in January 2020? As a listener, the EP still feels remarkably hopeful, and contains that magic of friends enjoying making music in a room together, so I’m curious how working within the parameters of the pandemic shaped that process.
Despite March 2020’s dark unfamiliar nature, I was in communication with my producer Todor Kobakov every day during the production of Good Morning Hunter. Sometimes we’d talk on the phone twice a day. I’d bring freshly squeezed orange juice to Todor’s home studio, and spike mine with Hennessy. We’d spend all day in separate rooms. I’d sit in the vocal booth with my magic juice, and Todor would be in his control room communicating through mics and headphones. This was the beginning of what would be an entirely new and unusual approach to recording a project together.
It’s surreal thinking back… because the release of “Low Light (In This Space)” in January 2020 was intended to be the dawn of a wild new day for me musically. It was supposed to launch a new and improved outlook on things to come in 2020. But once March occurred, as we all remember, everything got spooky real quick. The future was no longer set along the horizon… instead, the future was standing right in front of us and staring each of us square in the face. The future was happening now and it needed to be documented as we lived it. That being said, I wanted the outcome of this project to provide positive vibes a decade from now. I wouldn’t want to bury this record forever, due to downer vibes and dark memories. I think the crew and I achieved that. This record means a lot to me.
You directed music videos for the “Low Light (In This Space)” single and for “Peace” on this EP (and did a beautiful job, by the way!), is that something you’ve ever done before?
Thank you! I appreciate that, as it’s quite the challenge to not screw up your own vision. Growing up, I always wanted to be a photographer… as well as an NBA player, a speech pathologist, a stuntman and a rap artist. I remember rotating those answers over the years, with confidence, at the dinner table when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up” by the adults. Well, hey… one out of four ain’t bad, right?! But seriously, to satisfy my lifelong urge to make visual art, I direct my own music videos from time to time. It’s satisfying work, but I wish it on no one… especially the grueling post-production hours. I tip my hat to all filmmakers and editors out there!
I’ve heard from a lot of fellow artists that the adjustment into livestreaming or pre-recorded performances has felt strange. It’s obviously hard to replicate the energy of a physical audience in a room. How has the transition felt for you? Anything new or exciting you’ve been able to or hope to try?
Virtual performances for the camera can definitely leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed. Stage fright is entirely different from being camera shy. Songwriters may suffer from one or the other. Well, the pandemic weighs heavily against those that are camera shy. Because the camera don’t lie! Livestreaming can also act as an entry-level course on performing. You’re not getting an ego boost from the crowd, so you have to dig deep to keep the energy going. Personally, I do love performing in any capacity. To be honest, the only difference between livestreaming and live shows is not being able to banter to the crowd. There’s an art to bantering that only few can master… and bantering during a livestream just ain’t the same. You need an adoring tipsy crowd hollering sweet obscenities at you… giving you something to bounce the banter off of.
I imagine through your work at CBC as a show host you are continually exposed to lots and lots of music. Any exciting new music discoveries we should all check out?
I’ve been listening to New York City’s Lion Babe, Vancouver’s Dream Babe and London UK’s Babeheaven lately. It’s groovy makeout music to play for your babe. Hey… there’s A LOT of great music out there. The Canadian discoveries alone are endless and impressive. Coast to coast. And I’ve been really impressed with the wide range on Indigenous talent over the last few years. Aside from that, I’d have to say I’m fascinated with the high levels of magical releases coming out of Iceland over the last few years. I haven’t been to Iceland (yet) but I find it to be an enchanting and mysterious place with talented musicians everywhere. I try to visualize life in cities like Reykjavik, Kópavogur, and even umm, Seyðisfjörður… because wonderful musicians have come from there.
Any activity you’re finding particularly grounding these days? New hobbies? Go-to comfort snacks?
Ice cream has been my current activity, hobby and comfort snack (all in one). I’ve been into Death In Venice ice cream lately. I’ve been obsessed with their Matcha White Chocolate & Vanilla Bean flavour… as well as their Ricotta Lemon Rosemary. I mean c’mon… those combos are just unfair! I dream about them in my sleep. I’ve also been really into local ice cream maker Honey’s as well. She makes incredible plant-based ice creams. I’ve been into her Peanut Butter & Saltine Crackers flavour. It’s brilliant.
Any future dreams or projects you’re ready to share?
This year I’ll release a track I’ve been working on titled “5 Minutes of Freedom”. And it’s a vibe. Once again I’m working with my favourite Canadian gospel crooner Dawn Pemberton, long time collaborator and producer Alister Johnson and my talented brother Ofield Williams. Please look out for it! And thanks for supporting this journey so far. Much Love.
Catch Odario this Thursday April 29th at 9PM EDT on the Wavelength Youtube Channel! More info here.